Author: Paul Beard II
On June 9, the California Supreme Court denied review in Gualala Festivals Committee v. California Coastal Commission. PLF represented the Gualala Festivals Committee in its battle to keep an annual, 15-minute fireworks show on private property out of the California Coastal Commission's regulatory hands.
After a loss in the trial court, the First District Court of Appeal (based in San Francisco) decided that such a display is a "development" requiring a "coastal development permit" from the Commission. Astonishingly, in its opinion, the court of appeal recognized the significant implications of its decision for the Commission's jurisdiction: By the same logic, almost any human activity could be characterized as a "development" (e.g., breathing, driving, etc.), rendering the Commission's jurisdiction nearly limitless. PLF argued that the court of appeal's decision effected an unconstitutional delegation of power from the Legislature to the Commission–i.e., the power to define and limit an agency's jurisdiction. The supreme court's denial of review lets stand the court of appeal's troubling decision.
While this lengthy battle to impose reasonable limitations on the Commission's jurisdiction has been lost, the war rages on. PLF will continue to look for good cases outside the First District Court of Appeal that tests the limits of the Commission's jurisdiction. As always, PLF will continue to fight the Commission in the courts to restore private property rights and individual freedom in the coastal zone!